Day to day events mostly cataloguing my complete lack of understanding and common sense!

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Tagged with "wood"
Monday 21st August, 2017
Category: 2017/08
Tags: lichna card permanent residency registering car language wood

It's been a busy old couple of weeks for me, but now I can relax a bit as several major things which were looming over me have been dealt with.

A lot of my stress comes with trying to juggle the timing of things; not easy in Bulgaria where things happen when they happen, and that's about as precise as it gets. Take online ordering for example. I'm off camping next week for a couple of days so ordered myself a nice little dome tent from one of the DIY stores. I'm also having some work done in the living room and so ordered a new pechka (woodburner) to go in there. At least the great thing about Bulgaria is that you can opt for cash on delivery, so if your order goes totally pear shaped you haven't lost financially.

Anyway, having made the orders online I then had to face two phone calls from the companies informing me that my orders had been processed and to expect delivery... well, for the stove it was Thursday or Friday, and for the tent it was 'in a few days'. See what I mean? Not so bad if you're living with someone and can take turns staying home, but a bit awkward for a singleton.

Alongside awaiting deliveries I also had an imminent MOT and the renewal of my ID card and car registration documents to fit in, hence the tension.

In some ways I like the challenge, especially with the language, and it's a big buzz to come off the phone and know that you managed to both understand and be understood - a big improvement last year when the guy phoned about my bubblewrap order and I didn't have a clue who was calling or why and had to resort to English!

Added to this my wood delivery arrived and they guys who cut and split it could show up at any time.

Miraculously everything pretty much slotted into place. I'd just arrived back from Gabrovo one day when the tent guy phoned to ask where the house was. I described the location at which point he said good, because I'm outside right now. The pechka guy actually gave 15 minutes notice of delivery, although he came alone and there was no chance of me helping him heft a 77kg fire down off the lorry. He was content to wait though whilst I phoned around and found someone to come down and give him a hand.

The MOT was quite quick this year as there was no one waiting when I arrived and I got straight in. Similarly the application for a new lichna card (I'm now officially a permanent resident, yayyyy) and re-registering the car documents all went smoothly, and thrillingly it was all conducted in Bulgarian. Kudos to my language tutor as I'd never have got this far without him!

The guy came to chainsaw up the logs one morning just as the men from the electricity board arrived to prune back the trees from the electric cables.

There was some juggling of vehicles so they could manoeuvre round each other, which culminated in a downing of tools as one of the electricity guys showed interest in purchasing the wood cutting guy's car and they all gathered round like men at a barbecue to study the engine and point out its merits and failings (one failing being they all had to push it down my track to jump start the engine):

I'm not sure if the sale went through or not but it was an interesting distraction.

The wood has been a bit of a saga all round this year. I ordered 8 cubic metres which is roughly what I use in a year, at 70 levs per cube. My neighbour, rather smugly I thought, told me I should have ordered from her supplier for 65 levs a cube. I just shrugged as I'm always just happy when the wood arrives and it's all over with for another year. Well, lo and behold, shortly after my wood arrived, she approached me.

You've got lots of wood already, she says, and who knows when Nasko (or Vasko) will be free to bring mine. So, you can let me have two cubes of yours (note, not 'could I have') and I'll give you the money. I was so annoyed! Yes I've got enough wood but I like to order a year in advance so it gets a full year to dry out. I told her if she wanted to order some wood from my guys then I'd sort that for her but no, she was adamant she could just have mine. What can you do? So when the bloke came to chainsaw the logs he first had to separate off 2 cubic metres for the neighbour. He asked me if I was okay with the amount sectioned off but I haven't a clue how to judge volumes of wood, so hopefully he got it right, or at least erred in my favour!

I may have a cunning plan to replenish my stocks. The delivery lorry holds 10 cubes and I think next door but one want to order 8 cubes which will very conveniently leave 2 extra on the load for me, taking me back up to 8. Maybe Bulgaria has some kind of magic in the air where everything works out in the end and I should just sit back and let the chips fall where they may.

Monday 13th February, 2017
Category: 2017/02
Tags: weather woodworm

You know how they say everything happens for a reason? I'm a firm believer in this, even when it includes throwing an entire roast chicken on the floor. Let me enlighten you...

I popped into Gabrovo last Wednesday to get my hair cut and to purchase a set of weighing scales (for people) which were on special offer in Lidl. My current scales are a set I found when I moved into my old house in Barnsley back in 1997, and, being the sort with a needle, I find I can't actually see the result without crouching down, causing the reading to swing wildly between skeletal and obese. These new ones turned out to be even better than I'd thought. Apart from having a nice big digital reading which stays there after you've got off the scales, it also does all sorts of fancy things like tell you your body fat, bone and water content before happily announcing you should treat yourself to a chocolate eclair. Very user friendly.

Anyway, whilst in Lidl I noticed they were selling off whole chickens, so I bought a couple, and when I got home, stuck one in the freezer and the other in the oven to cook. At this time of year the oven is the one in the woodburner, and a couple of hours later it was time to remove the succulent fowl. Just as it was coming out of the oven my grasp on the tray slipped, and the entire thing crashed to the floor amidst the dust and ash of the stove, splattering fat all over my heap of logs. Five second rule though - and it was swiftly retrieved from the grime and drumped back into the pan. Don't worry - I wasn't cooking for guests.

Having sorted the dinner I left the cats to eagerly lap up as much of the puddle of juices as they could, and then later on headed back with a bowl of water and some kitchen spray to try and remove the rest of the mess. It was whilst I was down there scrubbing away that I noticed the corner edge of the bottom step on my staircase looked like someone had had a nibble out of it, as several fragments of wood were sticking out. Had Bella been having a midnight chomp to take her mind off her itchy leg?

I got closer to investigate, and as I touched the bits of wood I was horrified to see a pile of sawdust falling out of the stair. What the heck! Grabbing a screwdriver I then began probing around and discovered that a massive part of the edge of the step had been completely eaten by a very fat woodworm.

The amount of sawdust coming out, and the depth the screwdriver could go was quite alarming.

Fearing the entire staircase was under attack I then had a good stab with the screwdriver all over it but luckily didn't find any other crumbly bits. I'm sincerely hoping that it just so happened that this piece of wood already had a little woodworm egg in it when the carpenter started making the stairs, rather than it being an infestation after it was finished and installed.

I must admit I've been finding a few of the horrible longhorn beetles in the house this winter, but had assumed they were coming from the logs for the fire, because when I've split some of the logs they've had a lot of longhorn larvae in them. Needless to say the beetles are being destroyed as soon as they're seen and hopefully before they've had a chance to mate and lay eggs.

If I hadn't dropped the lovely roast chicken, I'd never have known!

I'm not surprised the beetles are coming out in the lovely warmth of the house, as it's still absolutely bitter cold outside. This makes doing laundry a bit difficult as I discovered the other day when my jeans decided to come back indoors by themselves.


Friday 30th September, 2016
Category: 2016/09
Tags: Gostilitsa Day Independence Day garden DIY rugs winter wood

Is it really almost October? It feels like I blinked and September vanished! It has felt like a bit of a whirlwind month with lots of things to coordinate but now all the little loose ends have been tied up and it doesn't feel so chaotic. I'm not a very patient person which doesn't sit well with life in Bulgaria where a dozen phone calls and prompts are often needed to organise one simple thing, and I sometimes feel like there's this ever increasing to do list churning round in my head - sort of like those old plate spinning acts where someone charges from one to the other keeping them all rotating on their poles.

September is a big bank holiday month in Bulgaria with Unification celebrations on the 6th and then Independence Day on the 22nd. They have this system over here too whereby the actual bank holiday gets tagged onto the nearest weekend so you can end up with several consecutive days where banks etc are closed. For Gostilitsa there's also our village festival on the 21st, so basically it was a knees up from Wednesday 21st through to Sunday 25th.

Each year the village seems to celebrate in bigger and better ways, which is great to see in an age where so many little villages are dying out. This year on Gostilitsa day we had folk dancing and musicians in the square during the early evening, and then there was a DJ and disco in the grounds of the old school until late night. The disco was also there on the other evenings of the bank holiday weekend.

Saturday evening there was a celebration of there being a community in this area for 1840 years. It began with the lighting of a torch down at the Roman ruins at Diskoduratera, which was then processed into the village.

The children put on a play in the theatre telling the history of the arrival of people here,

along with more folk dancing. Here are the links to a couple of video clips:

Video 1.

Video 2.

My old neighbour is constantly going on about how the village is dying and it's not like in the good old days, so I was determined to drag her along for this event just to prove to her that stuff still happens. Unfortunately Facebook advertised the start time as 4.30pm - an hour earlier than in reality, so when we arrived we still had a lonnnnng wait. I suggested to my neighbour we go back home for a while then drive back up for the show which she agreed to, on the condition we drive back via her daughter's house so she could let them know where she was.

When we arrived at said house, one of the grandchildren was having a birthday party, so naturally we were invited in. A plate of barbecue food was put in front of me which I nibbled on (having just finished an early evening meal at home) along with a drink. As 5.30pm approached I told my neighbour we needed to be going if we wanted to see the show, but by then of course she was happy to stay with her relatives. I got up to go but was then told to quickly scoff down a chunk of birthday cake which I dutifully tried to do. I'm not a big one for sweet cakes, and this was a child's special, covered in icing and a ton of cream. It took me ages! By the time I'd forced it down and again made my excuses for leaving it was getting on for 6 o'clock, so I missed the torch and half the performance! Added to that, my neighbour still has no idea that village life hasn't ground to a halt.

My winter wood all arrived last weekend after several weeks of worrying that I wasn't going to get any. Actually it's wood for next year, not this, as I try and buy a year ahead to give it more time to dry out. That will be essential with this lot as it came freshly felled from the forest, still sporting green leaves, and will be pretty wet inside for a while. I always buy my wood in meter lengths and then get someone in to chainsaw it up and split it for me. This year that all went a bit pear shaped.

I was under the impression that it cost 10 levs per cubic meter for it to be sawn up and split, and have happily paid this for the past two years. The guys work very hard and even barrow it all into the garden and stack it neatly in the shed for me which is excellent. So, this year, having dealt with 10 cubes of wood, I smilingly handed over 110 levs (100 for the work and an extra 10 for being so tidy). The guy looked at it quizzically and muttered something about last year. Oh, last year I had more wood, I told him merrily, this year it's only 10 cubes, wondering if he was thinking I'd diddled him out of two cubes worth of work. I bid him goodbye and went back in the garden at which point he sat silently in his car for about five minutes before roaring away with the engine revving like mad.

Being the worrying sort and not wanting to be in anyone's bad books I decided to text him to confirm that it was only 10 cubes of wood but to let me know if there was a problem. Indeed there was. Apparently the stacking of the wood in the shed isn't a lovely freebie - I'm supposed to pay for it! Instead of 100 levs the bill was 150. Yikes! I quickly sent back an apologetic text and told him I'd pay the rest. I think he's coming to cut up my neighbour's wood over the weekend so hopefully I can do my best grovelling and clear my debts then. I'd hate to become the Mrs Scrooge of the village!

I had a great find the other day when I was out walking Alfie. We set off across the fields towards the top of the village where there's a long springwater trough and a gorgeous panoramic view of the mountains. Unfortunately it's also the spot a lot of people choose to dump rubbish, so there's always a heap of building waste, beer bottles and mouldy mattresses lying there. Alfie loves nothing more than to snuffle around in it though but I'm always worried in case he cuts his paws on the glass or finds and eats a big slab of pork fat like he did the other year (it's a wonder he wasn't sick). Well, when I got close to where he was rummaging I saw that someone had dumped several of the lovely traditional rugs and blankets in a heap - what a waste!

I went down for a little nosy and shook out one or two of the items (gingerly, just in case a nest of rats had already claimed them) but apart from being a bit wet from the rain they didn't seem in bad condition at all. Certainly they were good enough for sitting on in the garden, or for animal beds. So after two trips I came away with 3 rugs, a blanket and two little stuffed toys which were far too sad to be left on a dump.

These are two of the items after being washed.

It was a bit sad up there too because I'm guessing that the owner of the rugs was an elderly person who has died and the relatives were having a clear out. Amongst the rugs was also one of the traditional costumes still worn by the baba singing group. Unfortunately it was quite moth eaten in places but I did rescue two of the dress straps with pretty white beaded details on them.

The other thing I saw on my walk was these berries which at first I thought might be a type of blueberry (no such luck) but which Mr Google tells me could be sloe berries.

No, I'm not starting up a gin still. What I might do is make sloe jelly and see if it makes a usable alternative to cranberry sauce (which you can't get over here very often). I've found some recipes which are pretty easy, so soon Alfie and I will be taking another walk, this time armed with a plastic bag.

Despite it being the end of September my garden is still looking quite bonny, and one little patch in particular looks almost cottage gardeny as there are about 8 different sorts of flowers all blooming together.

The photo doesn't do it justice at all so you'll just have to take my word for it!





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